In December 2013 the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) published a new estimate of foreign fighters in Syria. Based on more than 1,500 sources the ICSR estimates that – from late 2011 to 10 December 2013 – between 3,300 and 11,000 individuals from various countries have gone to Syria to fight against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. For Germany the number of fighters ranges from 34 to 300. At least around 16 German jihadists are said to have been killed in the conflict until now.
Hence, I compiled a list of German fighters (or fighters from Germany) who died in the Syrian civil war. The following list almost certainly is not complete and to most of the dead fighters only scarce information is available.
Update November 2015: Due to the high number of German jihadists who traveled to Syria and Iraq in the last months I was unfortunately unable to keep the following list updated. German officials estimate that until now 760 Germans have left the country to join jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq. 120 are believed to have died in the conflict. With the conflict in Syria and Iraq intensifying day by day, groups like ISIS don’t even publish eulogies or obituaries for their killed „martyrs“ anymore. Observers of the conflict assume, that the badly trained foreign fighters simply serve as cannon fodder in combat. This is one reason why it is currently nearly impossible to get any useful information on killed jihadists from Germany.
As the civil war in Syria rages on, more and more militant Islamists from around the world are gathering mainly in the northern parts of the country to fight the regime of Bashar al-Assad. German intelligence agencies estimate the number of German jihadists in Syria around 200, at least ten of whom died in their fight against the government forces.
By the end of November 2013 a video message allegedly released by sources near to one of the most dangerous jihadist groups, the so called “Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria” (ISIS) appeared on social media websites. It featured a young German speaking man armed with an AK-47 on his shoulder, who called upon German Muslims to “join the caravan of Jihad”. In the video he describes his own way from his conversion to Islam four years ago, to his emigration to Syria in order to “make the word of God the highest”, that is to fight the government of al-Assad and to establish a state based on the Sharia. The identity of the young German calling himself “Abu Usama” in reference to notorious terrorist Usama bin Ladin, was revealed a few days later. According to the German newspaper „Die Welt“ the young jihadist is 26 year old Philip B. from Dinslaken, a town in North Rhein-Westphalia. The former pizza delivery driver and some fellow Islamists which he knew from school traveled to Syria by car and joined ISIS. In the following I’d like to highlight some parts of the German jihadist’s video statement.
Als am vergangenen Donnerstag Mouhanad Khorchide, Professor für Religionspädagogik an der Universität Münster, den Bundespräsidenten Joachim Gauck zu einem Besuch am Zentrum für Islamische Theologie (ZIT) empfing, da schien es fast so, als sei nun endlich der ideale Kandidat für die Ausbildung der künftigen Lehrer des islamischen Religionsunterrichts an deutschen Schulen gefunden. Diesen Posten hatte Khorchide im Juli 2010 angetreten, nachdem sein Vorgänger Sven Kalisch, wegen dessen umstrittener Infragestellung der Existenz des Propheten Muhammad, von der Lehrerausbildung entbunden wurde. Doch der Schein trügte. Nur wenige hundert Meter von dem Ort entfernt, an dem sich der Bundespräsident mit dem liberalen Reformtheologen Khorchide traf, machten dessen Kritiker mobil.